School's almost over, the days are longer and it's that time of year when
the girls spend alot of time watching me in the shop to pass the time. I
was thinking that it's about time I let them try out some of the tools and
build something. With proper supervision of course... and not just any ol'
supervision but the
ys-I've-seen-how-you-treat-your-own" type of supervision.
So the question comes up,"what to let them build?" It needs to meet this
criteria - extremely basic construction but not so simple it fails to
inspire a sense of accomplishment. It needs to require enough steps that it
teaches patience but not so much it becomes boring. It needs to have
required techniques that forces me to teach and remained involved in the
process but still allows them to proceed on their own.
Yes I'm over thinking it. That's who I am. That's who my dad taught me to
be. Now it's my turn....
Speaking of ages, at what age do you let a child use the power tools? My 11 year old
daughter (5th grade) wants me to teach her how
to do the WW thing, but I am not sure if it is safe to expose her to the power tools.
I first touched power tools in woodshop in
the 7th grade.
Am I being too cautious?
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know
My 11yr old was demonstrating woodturning at our local symposium last
year. She also uses the bandsaw and scroll saw, but not the table saw
or jointer. It's all about choosing which tools and techniques are
safe enough, and which aren't.
Probably (that's how we are with people we love). My parents
never allowed me to own or use power tools. Thanks heavens for an
architect/stonemason/blacksmith grandfather and an uncle who
owned a tool and die shop and was willing to allow a small kid to
watch and question everybody (except customers :-) The only
things he put off limits were the zinc die casting machine and
the punch presses - but I wasn't ever allowed to try anything
/alone/. At five I had to climb up on a tall stool to see
properly - and always I paid for my shop time with broom-pushing
Eleven isn't too young to use a hand drill or saber saw. Depends
on the young person, of course (remember that there are adults
who aren't safe with /non-power/ tools). Work up from there as
you both build confidence. BTW, I think my uncle's rule about
requiring adult supervision is still a good one.
No ... but get them started making things using THEIR OWN _hand_ tools ...
you'll never regret it.
At six I had my own tool box I made myself with my grandfather's guidance,
full of my own tools ...and so equipped, I would have tackled the Grand
Coulee Dam if they would have just let me at it.
It set the stage for me believing that anything was possible if I just put
my mind and tools to the task ... and that's a great, lasting, gift to give
If you do this right, you won't have to ask the question about "when" with
regard to using power tools.
I have only been back into WWing for a couple of years now after a 15 yr hiatis. My
daughter had never shown any interest until I
began making small decorative boxes from walnut that I cut and dried. After making
her one based on her "Idea" she suddenly became
interested. Perhaps we will take it slow and come up with a project or two that do
not require the use of the power tools and see
if ther interest is still there. I think she may just think that it would be cool to
use the table saw.
Sounds like you know all about it, Dad. :)
First project on my website "Projects Journal" is one my youngest daughter,
then 16, and I did together. She did the design totally by herself and I
guided those precious hands over all of the tasks ... it is the only
"priceless" piece in a house full of hand made furniture and cabinets ...
even more special now that she is graduating from High School in a couple of
weeks and will be off to college in the fall, the last one out of the nest.
One can never be too cautious. But some power tools are safer than
others (IMHO). Besides hand tools, I had Cub Scouts using
and if they did well, they would eventually go to a Scroll Saw and
perhaps a Mini-Lathe. I watched them like a hawk. The Cub Scouts
built a simple tool box with a dowel handle on top. This was a good
exercise, because they had to measure the wood. (I used the table saw
to cut the pieces). They had to learn how to account for the width of
the wood, a mistake a few made. A bird house is another good
project. I think I started them with a Oriole Bird Feeder. This was
two pieces of wood in an L shape (roof and back), with a dowel in the
center of one - for the orange half to be stuck onto. An eye screw on
top, and voila!
Sending unsolicited commercial e-mail to this account incurs a fee of
$500 per message, and acknowledges the legality of this contract.
well every person has their own standarsd of course. My 8 y.o. was
using a small drill press at 6. Scroll saw last year, for his Cub
Scout Pinewood car. He used the new big drill press this year for
the first time. Last week he used the CMS for the first. While I was
right there. With a clamp holding the stock. With strict orders
never to use the power tools unless I am right there. That last one
worrys me. I know how I was-
He does not use the table saw or band saw. He has used the little
stationary power sander once or twice. I let him use a ROS this year.
He whittles a lot, the knife may not leave the shop, it is mine.
Since I found his first knife in the lawn.
For what it is worth, he is quite large, the largest in his class
generally. Otherwise, some things I might keep him from because of
He has on occasion asked to bow out on using tools. I don't push him.
He has only asked to use new (to him) tools once or twice.
I know several kids who started shooting rifles at 7. I have seen
other's 2 year olds on whitewater rivers, in rafts. We all have
different levels of risk we are willing to assume. I don't let him do
this stuff without giving it some thought.
Our cub scout den built bird houses this past Winter. I think all the
boys were eight. They all used cordless drills, both to drive screws
and with a spade bit to make the hole (I think- or did they use a
drill press for that??). They also used air nailers.
I expect by the time my boy is 11, the only things off limits in the
(supervised) shop will be the expensive, fragile stuff. I am guessing
he will be 6 foot by than, so he will have suffcient reach for the
table saw. I just hope he stays out when I am not home, for a while
On Tue, 11 May 2004 09:12:22 -0400, "Al Reid"
First project??? hmm several were started and never finished. The first
thing she actually FINISHED, all by herself, no help from dad, would
have to be a simple dovetailed box for mom at about age 5'ish
The first _tool_ my daughter made... a wooden spoke shave, of course in
fact she used it to ease the edges on the dovetailed box.
She got a L-N #1 for her fourth birthday....... gosh, can that really
be 5 years ago already, where does the time go!?!?!?!
John G. in Memphis, TN Have a nice......... night.
Hmm. All my experience was with boys; but how about:
* A bike stand for parking their bikes where they won't be run
over - a convenience for everyone
* Small memory/treasure boxes for special keepsakes (a good
opportunity to learn/teach finishing)
* CD/DVD/video racks
* A reading (book) rack that holds a book open to the current page.
* Bulletin (cork) boards for their favorite poster and pictures
* If they're using computers with separate keyboards
(non-laptop), how about a monitor stand that stores the keyboard
so the work surface can be used for other things.
How about simple boxes? You can do the prep on the materials after you
involve them in the design process. They can to most of the glue-up after
you teach them how (I'm thinking simple mitred joints and some masking tape)
If they want to get fancy, they can line them in felt or velvet and they can
do a lot of the sanding and finishing.
Just my $.02
This doesn't really answer your question, but seeing the subject line, I
have to brag a little.
Couple of weeks ago, I was cleaning up my shop a little with my son. I
had made pretty good progress when he brought me a piece of 1x4 scrap
and asked, "Dada, can we build a wood robot, please?" I, of course,
dropped what I was doing immediately.
Simple design: block body with cuts in the top to form shoulders and
head, square section arms and legs bolted through the body with extra
hardware I dug up. I cut the pieces out and knocked the corners off
w/the block plane. He drilled all the holes on the drill press (that I
set up with fence and stop), sanded, finished with paste wax, and bolted
it together. He had fun and was happy with the result. I savored every
minute I spent with him.
Oh, and he's 3 1/2.
Apropos of nothing, when I was in 4th grade (which would have made me 10
or so), my dad let me work on a wooden boat down in the shop. The hull
was going to be cut from a 2' long 2x4, and then I'd hollow it out with
woodcarving tools to make something akin to a dugout canoe. I had used
his bandsaw before (yes, this -is- going to end with blood and a trip to
the emergency room), so he let me cut the hull myself. In my zeal to
make the boat as -wide- as possible, I cut the canoe-shaped arc
juuuuuust as close to the edge of the 2x4 as I possibly could -- until
the blade popped out of the edge of the wood and sent the side of my
left wrist into the bandsaw blade. (Because of the pressure I was
putting on the board to push the 2x4 through the bandsaw blade, there
was no chance to pull my arm back.)
My dad was standing 3' from me, supervising, but had been distracted for
just a moment by my mom yelling down the stairs that it was time for
supper. His head snapped around when he heard my shrieks and saw my
wrist halfway through the bandsaw. Every drop of blood drained from his
face, but he calmly flipped off the power, extracted my arm, wrapped a
dishtowel around it, picked me up and told my mom that we were going to
be late for supper (without telling her why, exactly, though from the
sound of the power tools, the shriek, and the cutting of power, she was
able to draw her own conclusions).
Luckily no tendons or arteries were hit -- since the blade was cutting
into the outside of my wrist, I was basically resawing bone, and the
groove eventually filled in (presumably). I still have a nice ragged
scar there, 25 years later.
Sorry to spoil your breakfast (or lunch or dinner), but I just thought
I'd chime in with my own kid story to demonstrate what -can- go wrong,
even with close adult supervision. (For what its worth, it was a lesson
that I haven't forgotten, and my parents still allowed me to use power
tools, bless their hearts. Nor have I had a serious woodworking accident
since, though to be fair I haven't done any woodworking for the last 15
years. I'm in the process of building a shop now and acquiring my own
tools. My mom, wife and sister are nervous about this for some reason.
It probably has to do with a long litany of car accidents, skiing
accidents and general freak mishaps. I try not to think about it too
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